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Could You Use a Little Willpower? Join the Club!

The Psychological Association released results of its sixth annual survey on stress in America.

How’s it going doing what you know you need to do for your career, your health, your relationships, your spiritual life? Maybe you could use a little (or a lot) of willpower. Join the club.

According to a recent research report from the American Psychological Association (Stress in America: Missing the Health Care Connection), the biggest perceived barrier to change is willpower. (Of the nearly 2000 people surveyed who where trying to make a change or who had been advised to make a change, 31% said that a lack of willpower was getting in their way, followed by time constraints (22%), cost constraints (16%), and stress (12%).)

31% who want to change think they need more willpower to be successful. What worries me about that number is that I’ll bet that most (if not all) of the people who said that are thinking the willpower that means muscling through, putting your nose to the grindstone, sucking it up and making it happen.

Unfortunately, the muscling-through kind of willpower isn’t sustainable over the long haul. (Check out this research summary in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.)

So what options does that leave us with? I have two suggestions:

  1. Find your trump. If you’ve played card games such as Spades or Hearts, you know what a trump is. It’s something that has uber power. Play that card, and you win—every time. When you’re trying to make a change in your life, find your trump and you’ll have all the willpower that you’ll need. I used to be a choco-holic until I found my trump. (You can read about what that trump was for me in Robin Madell’s recent article on TheGlassHammer.)
  2. Prime yourself for an “aha” moment. In a flash of clarity you’ll gain all the focus and commitment that you’ll need to follow through. If you don’t know how, I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book, The AHA! Handbook: How to spark the insights that will transform your life and career.